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(506) 2223-1327         Published Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011, in Vol. 11, No. 38          E-mail us
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Rotary anti-polio campaigners will light up bank
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Rotary Club members here and around the world have been fighting polio for two decades, and this week around the world they will publicize the campaign by projecting "End polio now" on the facades of famous buildings in San José the main Banco Nacional headquarters will be illuminated tonight, local Rotary members said.

Polio, the dreaded crippler and killer, is a painful memory for those older than 55 years. It was in 1955 when Jonas Salk announced his vaccine.

Three years earlier a U.S. polio epidemic killed 3,145 and left 21,269 persons crippled.

An epidemic in Costa Rica in 1953 was directly responsible for founding the Hospital Nacional de Niños.

More than 2,000 Costa Rican children suffered serious crippling because of the disease in 1953. Carlos Saenz Herrera and Roberto Ortiz Brenes, both physicians, created the Asociación Pro-Hospital Nacional de Niños. The association generated enough funds to open the hospital in 1964. 

Since then in much of the world polio was beaten back with advance after advance in the vaccine. Not so in four countries.

In India 2011 is expected to be a key year in the fight to stop the disease, said the Rotary's End Polio Now campaign.  India is one of only four nations where transmission of the wild poliovirus has never been stopped. Last year, India experienced a record low number of polio cases, just 42. The other remaining polio-endemic countries are Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan, said the campaign

Great progress has been made, and the incidence of polio infection has plunged from about 350,000 cases in 1988 to fewer than 1,000 cases in 2010, the campaign added. More than two billion children have been immunized in 122 countries, preventing five million cases of paralysis and 250,000 pediatric deaths, it said.


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The Catedral de Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain, was site of one of the displays.

The lighting of the slogan on the Banco Nacional building will be at 7:30 p.m. The message has been shown on other structures, including the Sydney Opera House, London’s Tower Bridge, the Roman Coliseum, Egypt’s Pyramid of Khafre, Chicago’s Wrigley Building, the Obelisk in Argentina, and the San Francisco Ferry Building, said the campaign.

The Trevi Fountain in Italy, the New York Stock Exchange and the Charminar monument in Hyderabad, India, will be illuminated this week along with the Banco Nacional building.

Today marks the 106th anniversary of the founding of Rotary, a service organization of business and professional leaders. Many other structures around the world also will be illuminated this week.

Local Rotary Club members said that the illumination would be directed from the small park that is between the main entry to Correos de Costa Rica and the Club Unión downtown.

The World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also are associated with the campaign. Rotary members are trying to raise $200 million for the eradication effort to match $355 million in challenge grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 38

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Our readers' opinions
Effort would be spent
better cleaning up planet

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I read the "Skeptics Take on Global Warming" with interest.

Mr. Dukes laid out his arguments well (although he is in danger of being charged with hypocrisy, as a consultant to the chemical industry accusing the proponents of global warming of being sponsored by special interest groups!).
 
Mr. Marquardt's piece is way too outlandish for me and his conspiracy theories were unconvincing, especially couched in such immoderate terms.
 
I am an agnostic. I was impressed by Michael Crichton's book "State of Fear," especially the statistics from the U.N. and other impeccable sources which the author quotes.
 
But I wonder why the world, instead of engaging in this heated argument about if and why the world is warming up, does not turn its attention to cleaning the planet up.
 
Surely it is undeniable that there is unnecessary pollution in abundance. If the push was for a cleaner world — and it worked — perhaps the question of who might be responsible for any global warming would become moot.
 
Mark Rhys
El Roble, Santa Barbara, Heredia


Scientific proof needed
for global warming views


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Why is it that lefties never argue facts but instead love to besmirch their opponents’ character?

Here’s an example by Mr. H. Franz in Tuesday’s A.M. Costa Rica: “… Mr. Axel Marquardt, a fellow denier, is scarcely worthy of comment since he obviously belongs to that paranoid fraternity of conspiracy buffs.  His entire op-ed piece is rife with quasi hysterical, unscientific conjecture and hackneyed pap for the uninformed.” Well, Mr. Franz, that diatribe certainly helped clear the air about the scientific facts, didn’t it? If you have the facts as to why his writing is “quasi-hysterical” and “unscientific” why don’t you share them?

Contrary to Mr. H. Franz’ assertion that the debate is over, the skeptics regarding human causes of global warming have just begun to blow the hell out of the voodoo scientific theories of the social engineers regarding this topic. You can jump up and down all you want, Mr. F., like a petulant 6 year old, insisting the debate is over, but it isn’t, amigo, and it shouldn’t be.

Making assertions that a scientific fact is so does not make it so. It requires postulates, unbiased research and experimentation leading to logical conclusions. Where is the unbiased research for the globalwarming community? The unadulterated data?

I don’t know whether or not Mr. Dukes is factually and scientifically correct in all the assertions he makes, but as a scientifically trained person myself, I find his postulates more logical than Al Gore’s (you don’t think Al’s driving agenda might be money from cornering the market on carbon credits, do you?) or conclusions drawn by a real estate salesman. Ice does have a lower specific gravity than water; melting it in water will shrink the amount of total volume.

Does this apply to Antarctica?  I don’t know. Let’s discuss, but Mr. Dukes point about ice and water is scientifically correct.

Over 90 percent of carbon dioxide emissions come from natural sources (decomposition of vegetation and faults/fissures on the ocean floor). What part of that remaining 10 percent becomes the trigger to cause human induced global warming, 2, 4 ,6, 8 10? Where is the experimentation that supports that conclusion?

Over 93 percent of the greenhouse effect is caused by water vapor. Would you like to challenge that fact, Mr. F., or shall we start drafting legislation to regulate water vapor?

Personally I think the global warming movement (read anti-business, anti-industry movement) is the latest form of Y2K mischief and the greatest hoax perpetrated on mankind since Elizabeth I’s virginity.

Bob Normand
Quepos 

 
Find out what the papers
said today in Spanish


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Here is the section where you can scan short summaries from the Spanish-language press. If you want to know more, just click on a link and you will see and longer summary and have the opportunity to read the entire news story on the page of the Spanish-language newspaper but translated into English.

Translations may be a bit rough, but software is improving every day.

When you see the Summary in English of news stories not covered today by A.M. Costa Rica, you will have a chance to comment.

This is a new service of A.M. Costa Rica called Costa Rica Report. Editor is Daniel Woodall, and you can contact him HERE!

From the Costa Rican press
News items posted Monday through Friday by 8 a.m.
Click a story for the summary






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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 38
Latigo K-9


Here are some clear cases of picky, picky, picky
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

News that the current vehicle inspection monopoly might be replaced with what officials say is a more democratic system prompted readers to share their stories.

A Punta Banco reader said that his vehicle failed inspection in January because the license plate lights were dirty.

"They worked fine, but the dusty road I had to take to get to the station did me in. I took the lenses off and washed them on the inside which took five minutes — then had to wait an additional two hours to get my sticker."

A woman reader in the Central Valley called the inspection firm, Riteve SyC, gangsters because they snagged her vehicle for a grave infraction because she could not release the hand brake:

"A 300-pound wrestler cranked it so tight, I couldn't release it.  I replaced the @#$!!! cable and have to go back again for another 10K inspection.  Total extra cost is $60."

Another reader said she had to pay 10 times that amount because her front license plate was faded:

"The man at the station told me of a man who would paint them. My attorney informed me that was illegal and my car would be impounded if I did that.  Three days rental and new plates from San José cost me almost $600 USD all in all. Imagine!?

The transport minister, Francisco Jiménez Reyes, told lawmakers Monday that Riteve SyC would lose its monopoly in July 2012, and that other firms could participate in providing vehicle inspections. But he also said that officials would demand elaborate inspection facilities similar to the centers that the Spanish firm 
Riteve
A.M. Costa Rica graphic

now operates. Each would be in the $800,000 neighborhood with significant operating costs.

The creation of the vehicle inspection monopoly has provided jobs for many young men and women who graduated with engineering or automotive degrees. And some take their job very, very seriously, hence the reader complaints. They responded because the editor in the overnight A.M. Costa Rica digest note said that he had been snagged for a minor penalty because his vehicle had a rusty tailpipe.

In fairness to the inspection employees, the editor said that the firm caught a serious but hidden steering problem with his vehicle this month.



Contract drivers say they will close down highways today
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The unlicensed taxi drivers will again try to close the country down today, These are the Porteadores or contract drivers who are pressuring the country for passage of legislation that would legalize their profession and protect them.

The central government reached an accord with licensed taxi drivers and the porteadores last July. The result of the agreement was a bill presented to the legislature that has been languishing there since.

The bill would require the porteadores to meet many of the same requirements as taxi drivers but they could not pickup fares on the street. They could only carry passengers from one designated spot to another as contract workers.

The conflict between the taxi drivers and the porteadores has been going on for eight years. Although the contract drivers' claim to legality is thin, the government never tried

 to end the practice. Now they will have to follow the transportation laws and pay taxes and enroll for coverage in the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social, if the bill is passed.

The administration has threatened to crack down and issue tickets if drivers block the road, but there are about 8,000 porteadores and they will be blocking key roadways all over the country.

The porteadores protested repeatedly in much the same way. Then the licensed taxi drivers would protest and block highways.

The Federación Nacional de Porteadores said its members would converge on the Asamblea Legislativa in the afternoon after their blockades.

There is some suggestion that administration officials are trying to get the drivers to call off their protest, but no results were known early Wednesday.


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 38


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New civil case and indictments for Red Sea promoters

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Red Sea Management Ltd., a San José-based firm, is in trouble again with U.S. stock regulators and the U.S. Justice Department.

The security and Exchange Commission has filed a civil complaint in which it alleged that Red Sea ran a $7 million, international pump-and-dump fraud with the stock of a sham company that purported to provide products and services to fight global warming.

The Department of Justice also announced criminal indictments against six of the defendants.

The commission filed a complaint against:

* Jonathan R. Curshen, 46, a Sarasota, Florida resident who allegedly founded and led Red Sea Management Ltd.,  a Costa Rican asset protection company that, according to the complaint, effected pump-and-dump schemes on behalf of its clients and laundered millions of dollars in trading proceeds out of the United States to its clients;
      
* David C. Ricci, 39, and Ronny Morales Salazar, 39, of San José, whom the complaint describes as Red Sea stock traders;
      
* Ariav “Eric” Weinbaum, 37, and Yitzchak (or Izhack) Zigdon, 47, of Israel, allegedly two of Red Sea’s clients;
      
* Robert L. Weidenbaum, 44, of Coral Gables, Florida, allegedly a stock promoter who operates a company called CLX & Associates, Inc.; and

* Michael S. Krome, 49, a Lake Grove, New York lawyer, who allegedly wrote a fraudulent opinion letter.

In an unrelated criminal case, Curshen pled guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and commercial bribery, the commission said in its civil complaint. He is free on conditional release pending his sentencing. In an unrelated civil enforcement action brought by the commission, he was found liable after trial for violations of the anti-fraud provisions of the federal securities laws, the commission said. The evidence showed that he anonymously posted baseless financial projections and other information about an issuer on Internet sites,
failed to disclose that he was paid to promote the issuer, and sold the issuer's stock at the same time he touted it, the stock regulating agency said.

“This group of illicit stock promoters sought to hide their scheme behind offshore entities, but their misconduct was exposed by the excellent cooperation of law enforcement agencies here and abroad,” said Cheryl Scarboro, associate director in the commission's Division of Enforcement.

The fraudulent pump-and-dump scheme involved the common stock of CO2 Tech Ltd. that was carried out from late 2006 through April 2007. According to the complaint, the defendants’ coordinated misconduct enabled them to sell CO2 Tech stock at artificially inflated prices, resulting in profits of over $7 million. Ricci has offered to settle in a consent submitted for the court’s consideration, the commission said.

As a result of a false media campaign and the manipulated orders, the market price of CO2 Tech stock increased from 91 cents per share at the market’s close on Jan. 29, 2007, to $1.65 per share at the close on Jan. 30 – an increase of 81 percent in one day. The trading volume increased from 729,100 shares on Jan. 29 to 12,204,700 shares on Jan. 30 – an increase of 1,573 percent, said the commission.

In the related criminal action, the U.S. Attorney's office in south Florida said indictments sought by the Justice Department’s Criminal Division were unsealed against Curshen, Krome, Salazar, Weidenbaum, Weinbaum, and Zigdon. The defendants are charged in the Southern District of Florida variously with conspiracy to commit securities, mail and wire fraud; wire fraud; mail fraud; violating the securities regulation laws and obstruction of justice, said the U.S. Attorney's Office.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, CO2 Tech promoters purported that the firm had a business relationship with Boeing to reduce polluting gases emitted from airplanes. The indictment alleges that these relationships never existed.

Red Sea shared office space in Edificio Colón in San José with Sentry Global Securities, another firm named in the indictments. Some U.S. expats were employed or otherwise associated with Red Sea during the period outlined in the indictments.



Two more telephone sales scammers admit their guilt

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Two individuals have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud for their roles in business opportunity fraud schemes run out of Escazú and La Sabana, the Department of Justice and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service announced.

Silvio Carrano and Gregory Britt Fleming were arrested following their indictment by a Miami federal grand jury March 9, based on charges that they and their co-conspirators sold vending machine, beverage and greeting card business opportunities, including fraudulent promises of assistance in establishing, maintaining and operating such businesses. The charges are part of the government's continued nationwide crackdown on business opportunity fraud. Sentencing has been scheduled for April 20.

Two others involved in this scheme have been arrested and pleaded guilty. On June 29, Donald Williams pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. On Oct. 27 he was sentenced to 78 months in prison. On Jan. 18, Patrick Williams pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, 10 counts of mail fraud and three counts of wire fraud. Patrick Williams is scheduled to be sentenced March 30.

According to court documents, beginning in June 2004, Carrano, Patrick Williams, Donald Williams, Fleming and
 their co-conspirators fraudulently induced purchasers in the United States to buy business opportunities in Apex Management Group Inc., USA Beverages Inc., Twin Peaks Gourmet Coffee Inc., Cards-R-Us Inc., Premier Cards Inc., The Coffee Man Inc. and Nation West Distribution Co. The defendants sold business opportunities costing thousands of dollars each, and most purchasers paid at least $10,000. Each company operated for several months, and after one company closed, the next opened. The various companies used bank accounts, office space and other services in the Southern District of Florida and elsewhere.

The defendants, using aliases, participated in a conspiracy that used various means to make it appear to potential purchasers that the businesses were located entirely in the United States. In reality, Carrano, Patrick Williams, Donald Williams and Fleming operated out of Costa Rica to fraudulently induce potential purchasers in the United States to buy the purported business opportunities, according to court documents.

Carrano and Fleming admitted that the companies made numerous false statements to potential purchasers of the business opportunities. Potential purchasers were falsely told they would likely earn substantial profits; that prior purchasers of the business opportunities were earning meaningful profits; and that the business opportunity worked with locators familiar with the potential purchaser's area who would secure or had already secured high-traffic locations for the potential purchaser's merchandise stands.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 38

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Caracas rights activists
end their hunger strike

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Venezuelan students have called off a hunger strike that they began more than three weeks ago to protest alleged human rights abuses in the South American nation and the jailing of people they consider political prisoners.

Reports say the strike was called off Tuesday because the Organization of American States is discussing the allegations of rights abuses.  The protesters also have demanded the organization investigate the cases of more than two dozen government opponents who the students say have been prosecuted on politically motivated charges.

Several hunger strikers had been camped outside the Caracas office of the Organization of American States as well as the Costa Rican Embassy during the strike. 

Last week, the United States urged Venezuela to allow a visit by Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza of the Organization of American States, but the government in Caracas accused Washington of meddling. 

Venezuela says there are no political prisoners in the country.


Israeli agents kept an eye
on Iran in Chile, cables say

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A leaked U.S. diplomatic cable indicates that Israel was working with Chile to spy on Iranian activities in South America.

According to the cable obtained by the Web site WikiLeaks, U.S. officials reported that Israel worked with the Chilean government to monitor what it called "unusual activity" by Iran's envoy to Santiago.

The 2008 cable from the U.S. Embassy in Santiago attributed the information to the Israeli military attaché in Chile, Yoeli Or.

It quoted Or as saying he worked with Chile's investigative police and other agencies to share information and provide training when possible.

The diplomatic cable noted of the Iranians that "while there are no signs of affiliation with terrorist groups in Chile, the Chilean intelligence service and the Israeli government are screening for anything they deem suspicious."

Or reportedly also said Israel was concerned about Iran's growing influence in Venezuela and noted that there were 50 Iranians in Colombia with diplomatic passports. He also voiced concerns over possible Iranian influence on Chilean Muslim and Palestinian communities.

According to the leaked cable, Or said Israel would like to expand trade ties with Latin America, "in part to help balance Iran's expanding influence in the region," but that a lack of resources set back that effort.


Uribe's cousin facing
seven years in prison


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Colombian officials say a cousin of former President Alvaro Uribe has been sentenced to more than seven years in prison on charges of making deals with rightist paramilitary groups.

The Colombian Supreme Court made the announcement Monday in the case of former senator Mario Uribe, who was accused of having links with the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia and profiting from its actions. 

Reports say the former senator was accused of making agreements with Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia units in the northwestern state of Antioquia for the armed units to intimidate and alarm voters to help him secure election to the senate several years ago.  He has denied any ties to the right-wing terrorists.

During his presidency, Alvaro Uribe repeatedly denied collaborating with the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia

The United States has designated the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia, along with two leftist rebel groups, as terrorist organizations.
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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 38

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Latin American news
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Conditional release sought
for six in home invasion

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Prosecutors have asked a judge to put on conditional liberty six men who may have embarked on a vigilante punishment mission. One of the suspects is a Fuerza Pública officer.

The six are accused of forcing their way into the home of a man with the last names of Morales Morales in Barrio Los Lirios, Sarapiquí, and beating up the occupant with a baseball bat. Morales lived but was hospitalized. Investigators characterized the incident as a home invasion, but Morales is believed to be facing a judicial process.

Prosecutors were generous with the six men. They asked a judge to place the six on conditional liberty with the promise of not approaching the victim or witnesses, maintaining a fixed place to live and sign in with prosecutors once a month.

They were identified by the last names of Marín Chinchilla, Fergurson Pinoc, Fernández Díaz, García Castro, Soto Mena and Sandoval Rodríguez. Marín is a police officer. Police said they confiscated three sidearms from the men as well as a baseball bat when they stopped a car not far from the crime scene.


California medical firm
will open El Coyol plant


Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Helix Medical, LLC, a manufacturer for the medical device and healthcare industries, will soon begin construction on a new medical manufacturing facility in Costa Rica, the firm said Tuesday.

Helix Medical said it signed a leasing agreement in The Coyol Free Trade Zone and Business Park in Alajuela, Costa Rica, just outside of San José. The company will invest more than $4 million in the new plant that will soon employ more than 100 people, Helix Medical said, adding that it expects this new facility to begin production in the first quarter of 2012.

“We chose Costa Rica to be close to our customers in Latin America,” said Andy Becker, vice president and general manager of the firm's Carpinteria, California, and Costa Rican facilities “The country offers a large medical device community with a skilled workforce as well as a good reputation for security and infrastructure.”

Helix Medical Costa Rica will offer contract manufacturing services which include silicone extrusion, silicone molding, thermoplastic molding, and assembly operations.

Helix Medical makes medical devices and operates pharmaceutical and biotech industries with six manufacturing operations worldwide.

Canadian dies at park

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Rescue workers are expected to resume the job early today of recovering the body of a Canadian tourist who fell into a stream and drowned at the Parque Nacional Rincón de la Vieja.

The woman was in the company of other tourists when she slipped at a well known waterfall and fell into the water. Cruz Roja workers were racing the sun Tuesday evening, but the scene of the accident is some distance from the park entrance. They thought they would have to resume in the daylight today because of the dangerous recovery.







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